SERVICE OF ALCOHOL AT BEVERAGE MANUFACTURERS: The House Commerce Committee has voted 18-1 to recommend passage of SB 418 with amendment. As amended, it would allow wineries to sell up to one 5-ounce glass in lieu of 2-ounce samples, or if food is made available, to sell 2-five ounce glasses. Additionally, it would allow beverage manufacturers to serve one pint of their product in lieu of 4 oz samples, and two full pints if food is available. Meanwhile, a similar bill, HB 1725, remains on the table in the Senate. This issue is likely to be resolved in a House/Senate committee of conference at the end of the Session.
LABOR LAW CHANGES: The House passed SB 318 with amendment on a voice vote. As amended, the bill increases the number of hours 16 or 17 year olds can work during shortened school weeks. Current law limits the number of hours during any school week to no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 30 hours. As amended, the bill keeps the 30 hour limit on regular school work weeks, but loosens it as follows: no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 40 hours if school is in session for 4 days that week; and no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 48 hours if school is in session from 1 to 4 days. A floor amendment to remove this language and keep the limit to 30 hours per week regardless of the number of school days in a week was narrowly defeated on a vote of 149-154. The bill further makes it clear that employees can purchase company garments beyond any uniform that is purchased for the employee by the employer. Finally, it makes it clear that there will be no penalty for failure of an employer to provide notification to an employee concerning changes to their wage when the minimum wage is increased by statute. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with the House amendments. NHLRA supports the bill.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE: On a vote of 14-10, the Senate voted to send HB 628 to interim study. This prevents the bill from advancing anymore this Session. The bill would have established a paid family and medical leave insurance program for employees taking time away from work because of the birth of a child of the employee; because of a serious health condition of a family member; or because of a serious health condition of the employee. The insurance pool would have been funded through a .67% deduction from employee’s wages which employers would have remitted to the NH Department of Employment Security on a quarterly basis. Employers would have provided employees, upon hire, a form prepared by the Department that would have explained the program and provided an opportunity for employees to opt-out of the program. Employees would have been given an opportunity to opt in on January 1 of each year. Participating employees would have to invest into the fund for 6 months prior to taking leave. The benefit would have provided a participating employee 60 percent of their average weekly wages in the highest quarter of the year prior to the benefit year payable up to 6 weeks leave.
ENTERTAINERS CONSUMING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHILE PERFORMING: The Senate postponed a vote on HB 1285 until next Wednesday, April 2. The Senate Commerce Committee has voted 4-0 to recommend passage of HB 1285, which would allow entertainers in establishments that are licensed to serve alcoholic beverages to drink alcohol while performing. An amendment was added to the bill in the House to make it clear that “dancers” are also allowed to drink alcohol while performing.
PAYMENT FOR UNUSED VACATION OR PERSONAL TIME: The Senate killed HB 1201. The bill would have required employers to pay employees earned but unused vacation time.
SEPARATE BATHROOMS FOR EACH SEX: The Senate Commerce Committee has voted 3-2 to recommend that HB1382 should pass. The bill would repeal the requirement that restaurants provide separate bathrooms for each sex. The full Senate will vote on the bill next Wednesday, May 2.